Friday, May 4, 2012

Abuse, misuse and no use...where are we heading with mobile technology?

The world is moving so quickly with regard to the abuse and misuse of technology, it makes my head spin.

My wife is in Canada visiting family, so I have taken a deep breath, scraped together some shekels and made the leap into the unknown and asked her to bring back an iPhone 4s--relatively state of the art technology to replace my 'ancient' and 'creaking' five-year-old Nokia 6300. (Where do old phones go to die, I wonder. If you know what I should do with my obsolete cell phone, please advise.)

One of the main reasons for taking this step is that I have noticed so many of my students clutching, stroking and fondling their beloved smart phones, that I thought I had better become at least partially au fait with the technology to keep in touch with the world that they are growing up in. I say this as a total digital immigrant when it comes to mobile technology. How sophisticated my students are in the use of the technology, other than playing games, taking pictures and sending minute-by-minute FACEBOOK updates, I'm not really sure.

They seem 'tech-savvy', but how aware are they of the risks, the pitfalls and the safety issues? At least my students are adults studying at university and can, I hope, make informed decisions about the use, misuse and abuse of their mobile devices. So, I can struggle to keep pace and try to learn to be 'tech-comfy' with this brave new world of mobile devices, assuming that my students know how to look after themselves.

However, my colleagues who teach young learners face a much more serious challenge. Many are still struggling with 'e-safety' on computers, but most are managing as best they can. However, no sooner than we breathe a sigh of relief at having installed NetNannies and sophisticated web site blockers and filters on all the computers at school, then in waltzes an eight-year-old with a 3G smart phone, provided by mom and pop to 'keep in touch'.

The amazing technology aside, the actual use of mobile devices in the immature and unwitting hands of an adolescent brings on a whole new range of issues hitherto unknown. I've been aware of the term 'sexting' for some time, but I thought it would be a passing fad. Seems I was wrong. See for a fairly chilling account of what adolescents do with their smart phones in the UK.

 An 2009 article in the BBC cited that "the charity Beatbullying found that 38% of 11-18 year-olds had received a sexually explicit or upsetting text or email."  What is even more sobering, is listening to these 'digital-savvy' offspring of the 'digital native' generation reveal their near total ignorance of responsible use of these devices, and the rather obvious ramifications of their actions of misuse or abuse.  You may need to pause and replay if you are not familiar with the way English is (mis)spoken in England, innit?

If you are under the age of 25, I would love to hear your advice to  teachers about what they should be doing to help the young learners become responsible and secure in their use of emerging mobile technologies.

  • Was 'sexting' an issue in your high school years?
  • Do young people today really feel that cyberbullying is an important issue?
  • Can smart phones move beyond just being a toy or a 'plaything' and become a serious piece of technology for learning?
  • If teachers can't keep pace, is there a role for a mentor, an older student, who can help guide younger counterparts in how to use and not abuse the technology of the day?


  1. I think technology is not the only problem when we look into teenagers of today. Generations are changing so rapidly that I don't even know what to do with them and how to understand and accommodate their thoughts or beliefs. As i said at the beginning, technology is not the only problem, teenagers are getting married and pregnant before eighteen, they start smoking at twelve, they start using drugs at twelve ( I don't really know what is wrong with them. Also, I don't think it is caused due to the technology because humankind is changing in terms of years like climates. What I learned in some sociology courses over years is the role of family in child development is the important factor, so if children cannot get that education from family, it become a disaster and ignorant youngster who are aware of what's true. We can't blame only the technology and we may not prevent the results even if we try to help them. Also, in my country people are getting mad... I don't really know why someone changes the education system into a destructive one, for example, they want to put lactation rooms in high schools! Anyway, I am aware of the risks of technology and trying to use it as a tool not acting like am a slave of technology. Furthermore, I don't care what people do and going to do, so "let it bleed".

  2. Teacher, I advice you to observe also Samsung Galaxy S2. It is more functional as the 2011 sales ratios point out. It has been sold more in worldwide compared to Iphones in 2011.,2817,2399445,00.asp

    You can do everything with Galaxy S2, you can even send a sms with only speaking. Also, it is much more easier to read online newspapers on Galaxy S2. A more bright lcd and fast processor etc and etc. Here is a quite detailed video of comparison of these two phones.

    Almost all mobile phones has very small amounts of gold in it. Maybe you could take the gold in it Sir =)

    Other than playing games, taking pictures and sending minute-by-minute facebook updates we are really using the properties of smart-phones. First, mobile phones are our agendas that we note all of notes, our schedules, things to do lists etc. We are using it as a scientific calculator. Also, we are using its gps to tell the road to go somewhere. In addition we are using their thermometer while we were doing experiments. Moreover, we are using them to read or share pdfs and sending them to printers by blutooth. We are even filling our academic record sheet when we are coming to campus. There are numerous benefits of these phones.

    I think the problems occur when the owners are not adults. Not only sexting but also many problems exists by young mobile phone owners. Some parents does not avoid to buy mega-functioned, expensive phones to their children even going to the primary school. These wrong attempts forms the competition feeling between primary school students. Also, some high school students may be included.

    In my opinion problems such as sexting are caused due to the lack of dialogues between children and their parents. They could talk even sexuality sometimes. They should not have an attitude such as saying; whatever he/she does, its her/his life.
    Actually it was not an issue in my high school years, the phones weren’t developed that much. I dont remember if any of my friends had faced such a problem. Unfortunately cases such as rapes are much more frequent compared to the cyberbullying cases in Turkey. Therefore, I dont know young people's thoughts about the importance of this subject.

    Surely, smart phones can become a serious piece of technology for learning. In fact, it has already been. Now, its possible to do everything by using a smart phone that you could do by computer.

    The technology seems to be criminal but, the real criminals are parents. Our centuries popular problem, not spending time to children due to working all the time, shows itself by these type of problems in future.

    There is also one important factor apart from the careless parents. Again and again; United States coming with cultural imperialism aiming children this time. Problematic youth means problematic society meaning that a problematic country. And its much more easier to manage a problematic society. ‘’Illuminati’’ has two main principles including usage of religion or sex to manage, exploit humanity. Since the childhood shapes the character of the adults, attaching sexual materials into cartoons could have been a powerful strike. And they did;

    These are just some examples, its possible to find similar things almost all of the popular cartoons. I was very surprised when I saw the search results.I think we should stop reasons instead of wasting our time to stop causes.

    1. day you might be a parent. :) But you do make a valid point about technology not being the real culprit. Guns don't kill people...the people who pull the trigger do the killing.

  3. It is really an important subject and shoul be paid much more attention because of leading terrifying consequences. Bullying and sexting weren't in my high school year, or I haven't encountered like these events.I think that they have probably emerged recently and become a growing problem that have resulted in child pornografy. The wonderful new interactive communication technologies are immersing and benefiting our society. On the other hand,these technologies most likely cause major problems for teens. Sometimes these problems can be underestimated,yet low self-esteem, depression, poor academic achievement, even suicide are serious problems not only for young but also for their parents and society.For the current generation of young people, e-mailing, text messaging, chatting and blogging are crucial means of self expression and a central part of their social lives. Whereas, they have lack of information about the possible consequences of their behavior and also the type of image they'd like to represent to the world is one way to encourage them to come to their own conclusions.So,teens are most probably not aware of how cyberbullying is an important issue. I think that parents of young people are informed urgently in this respect by school administration. Because many parents can be unaware of the problem due to lack of fluency in new technologies. After being informed, they should monitor closely their children while both before going online and online. In other words, parents should make some rules for their children before they are online. Some examples of these rules can be the time of being online in a day,length of time, allowed sites to visit. In addition, parents should warn frequently their children about not to share private information, not to open messages or attachments from people they don't know, not to send their picture or personal information to strangers or people they only know from online and finally not to leave all their phones or other electronics out of sight.The most important thing among all these is to help teens when they experience or face online bullying by inciting them not to respond to bullying or inappropriate messages, to talk about problems they experience online with an adult like teacher, school counselor or family member, and lastly they should be emphatically said that when in doubt about what to do, log off the computer and ask for help from a trusted adult.

  4. There weren't any issues such as bullying and sexting in my high school years. In my opinion, these are a growing problems which have several serious results like depression,poor academic achievement, and even suicide. Despite the prevalence and terrifying results of these problems, many adults are unaware of the problem due to a lack of fluency in new technologies.
    The wonderful new interactive communication technologies are immersing and benefiting our society. On the other hand, it can be very dangerous for teens. I think these problems stem from the fact that e-mailing, text messaging, chatting and blogging are the vital means of self-expression and a central part of their social lives for the current generation of young people.In spite of lack of information about the possible badly consequences of the web-based communication, young people are still allowed the use of these ways for the communication by their parents.Thus, firstly parents must be informed about in this respect. And then they should take some precautions to prevent undesired results arised from the use of technological tools.
    The measures directed towards these problems can be like in the following:
    -make some rules for going online like the time of day and length of time the young can be online
    -cell-phone and internet use to a resonable amount of time and keeping a healthy balance between online and in-person activities
    -warning the young for not to share personal or private information online and not to send their picture to people who they know only online
    -informing the young about talking their problems they experience online with an adults that they trust like a family member, teacher or school counselor

  5. I agree with Bülent about technology is not the only problem. Day by day,generations are becoming worse. They become a victim of technology when they share inappropriate pictures or videos. However, uploading these pictures is their choice, and this means they accept the bad concequences such as being ignored by their friends, even by their parents.Generally, nobody wants to talk with a person who has a notority.

    I think, teachers should inform students about the danger of sexting and misusing the internet.

    In my high school, I didn't encounter sexting or bullying. Unfortunately, there are bullying and sexting, especially in high schools.

    Smart phones can be a tool for learning. They are small, portable and light. People can carry them easily wherever they want. If it is needed, they just look and get information about what they want to learn. It takes just a few minutes.

  6. Sir , Actually i am the one who do not use mobile because i think that it is nothing but a money lost.I have a computer and ı have a normal phone in my dorm room so i dont need mobile phone , but in turkey i am using my old 32 00 nokia yes it has some normal function but not a smart phone. Giving 2500 tl for a phone is a cruel thing because so many people's monthly income less than 2500tl. Do not got me wrong i am not a anti-tech man but when thinking logically giving such a money to a mobile not a good idea for me i can do whatever i want with me pc too.

  7. Sexting and bulliying are not common as much as today in my high school days, but there were some people that sent other people annoying hot messages. I have an event about this issue. We totally cannot blame technology, It is also appropriate with the centry, families and lack of bussiness. Even if the technology isn’t be ipmrove, people who are vecious will continue to disturb other people in other ways like by writing them some notes and sending the notes to their homes or offices.

    Cyberbulliying is very important issue. Because of cyberbulliyng, many people get divorce from their wifes or husbands. Even if the peole are right, their wifes or husbands may understand the messages wrong, so they get divorce their wifes and husbands. Moreover, I think it is against with the human rights.

    Smart phones should use to connect people and to learn something. It is tragic that while they have a lot of benefits, they are used for bad things.

    A mentor, and an older student can help youngers in how to use technology, but many of older people would be a bad example to young people, especially, brothers and sisters. For example, if a brother who has a young sister uses computer as a toy instead of studying, as his sister usually obsereves him, she can use computer in a way as a tool.
    If we aware of the sexting and bullying, we should encourage people who don’t aware to use technology for good things like to learn something .

  8. I think this topic is one of the most important problem for todays world. Technolgy is developing fast and with this develoment everthing changes in our life. There are alot of advantges for this changes.However, there are a lot of disadvantages too. when the first cell phone was invented it was used only for speaking each other but now there are a lot of feature on every cell phone. These features are developed in order to make persons life easy but many of us abuse these features and especially for children or teenagers these kind of mobile phones may be dangerous. In order to solve this problems parents and taechers should inform teenagers about disadvantages of cell phones.

  9. We dont need to get high end technology for communicating and wasting money If you can send message by Nokia 3330 that is all fine you do not need an Iphone or something and we can see that sexting takes place in developed countries such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia... A social danger with sexting is that material can be very easily and widely propagated, over which the originator has no control. However If we dont know the person we text or talk through messenger we should not send our pictures and do what they say. to me using 'sexting' even a word is a crime...

    I've never heard about sexting in my high school
    Cyberbullying is still an important issue no matter what as I said before we should not trust online people
    I guess smart phones can not move beyond just being a toy or a 'plaything'
    We should share what we had done so far like chatting a guy you met online tp our friend so s/he can stop us

  10. I found an article about sexting from King's College London here is the link below

  11. Yes, I did some thinking on this matter as well. Technology can be abused by humans as well as it can be used for good. The whole opening in terms of making sexual content available to many is an issue of course, but the issue is protected by the first amendment of the U.S law. So the danger only applies for the under aged, again, according to the U.S law. I don't think that it would be fair to only judge and see the problems with technology because humanity is in a place where no one can deny or try to survive without technology completely. And we all know that "sex" is product that sells in our modern world, therefore it would be unfair to blame technology for it as well. Sexting was never an issue because it has become such a "normal" problem for everyone nowadays. Cyberbullying is a problem and it can definitely affect individuals' mental state and well being badly. Smartphones can move beyond everything :) Tv, games, internet, communication, personal documents...shortly smartphones are the new pocket computers. And smartphones are developing and improving faster than lap tops or PCs. Of course, as humans we are able to abuse any sort of power that's given to us, its just our nature and basic human psychology. Of course there are some of us that can prevent or decide to stop abusing, but the majority will at least try it for once ;)

  12. Technology can bring a lot of disadvantages if misused.